US health corporations are already embedded in the NHS. The question is how to get them out.
The National Health Action Party was founded by Dr Clive Peedell and Dr Richard Taylor in 2012 in response to the Coalition government’s disastrous Health and Social Care Act which significantly accelerated NHS privatisation.
The party advocates the reinstatement of Nye Bevan’s founding principles of the NHS as a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable National Health Service, universal and comprehensive, provided according to clinical need not ability to pay. The NHS has been under increasing strain with years of de-funding, meaning that the NHS has fewer doctors per 1000 people compared to similar economies, fewer hospital beds per 1000 people and fewer CT and MRI scanners. The number of hospital beds has been cut from 300,000 to 150,000 since the 1980s for example, and is projected to fall further.
Compare and contrast the NHS with, say, the US American health system which leaves millions of Americans uninsured or underinsured while costing more than twice as much as Britain as percentage of GDP without any better outcomes across the population.
Comparison with US American healthcare is highly topical right now. Readers will have followed the rows and arguments about whether the NHS will be on the table in UK- US trade negotiations after Brexit. It has recently been announced that the US President plans to visit the UK prior to the general election set for 12th December 2019.
It may or may not come as a surprise that US private healthcare corporations are already embedded in the NHS, for example in the person of Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England. Stevens used to work as vice president for United Health America which is a company implicated in healthcare and billing fraud. United Health America in a consortium with other firms then rebranded as Optum and promptly got to work advising on further NHS cuts and on changing the NHS to a US- style ‘accountable/ integrated care system’ behind the scenes, making almost £7million in the process.
As a political party we campaign against the ever present threats to the NHS and to wider social determinants of health. We usually stand candidates in elections but have decided—after extensive discussions—not to stand candidates of our own in the forthcoming general election on 12th December, in order not to split the progressive and pro-Remain vote. We are encouraging our members and supporters to campaign in their localities in electoral alliances where possible.
Please follow us on social media, campaign with us and join us:
On twitter @NHAparty
On the web www.nhaparty.org
Veronika Wagner is co-leader of the National Health Action Party
With the UK now set for a General Election on December 12, Bright Green is publishing a series of articles from the spokespeople of progressive political parties on how their policies would transform the country. This article is part of that series – all articles can be found here.
Header image credit: The White House – Creative Commons